College looms as an intriguing experience

Michael Holahan/Staff
Photo illustration

A year ago today, many seniors couldn't wait for high school to start so it could end and then college could begin.


That was then, this is now - and those college-bound members of the Class of 2007 are only weeks from setting off for the institutions of higher education they worked so hard to attend.

Many are tense, anticipating the excitement of college life and all the apprehension that comes with it.

Will Nelson, 18, will start classes at Augusta State University in less than a month. The business major is excited, but he's also wondering what's in store.

"I always hear the phrase that college is going to be the best four years of my life," he said. "I'm not so sure I believe it."

College is starting to look a bit daunting for Mr. Nelson, who graduated from Augusta Christian Schools in May.

"I think people are scaring me up," he explained. "I have older brothers and sisters; they say school is tough. I've heard the line that for every hour of class you have, you're supposed to study two. ... I just hope it all falls into place."

Will Wright is hoping for something similar. Classes begin Sept. 11 at Furman University in Greenville, S.C., and Mr. Wright said he has a few things to work out to enjoy the experience.

"Probably just finding something I'm interested in, finding what I want to major in and getting a feel for the subjects and what I'm best in," he said of his academic apprehensions.

On the social side: "It's finding the right friends," he said. "Well, finding friends shouldn't be too tough, but I'm talking about finding people I'm going to be lifelong friends with."

Already familiar with the campus (two of his older sisters went to Furman), Mr. Wright said he's not too concerned about starting his freshman year, but he isn't completely carefree.

"It's just the uncertainly of it all," Mr. Wright said. "I think that's the main sentiment of most seniors. It's exciting, it's something new but at the same time it's, 'What am I going to eat?' 'What am I going to do?' 'Who am I going to meet.' That sort of balance between the two."

Being excited and scared at the same time is to be expected, said Stephanie Foote, the director of the Academic Success Center and the First Year Experience at the University of South Carolina Aiken.

"Having apprehension or just doubt or concern about what the transition (to college) means or what the first year is about is perfectly normal," she said. "It's the kind of thing people have been experiencing for a long time."

The college doesn't matter.

"(Students) can have that nervousness, that concern no matter the distance," Ms. Foote said. "It's the totality of the experience. A lot changes. Many of the students I work with, they are surprised at how things are different than they were when they were in high school, even though some of their high school classmates might be there with them."

University of South Carolina Aiken freshmen are given access to a convocation for new students, a freshman seminar course and Mrs. Foote's office to help them make the adjustment.

Soon-to-be University of Georgia freshman Virginia Dent is comfortable with becoming a Bulldog. She said she's mostly optimistic about this fall.

"The biggest challenge is going to be the size," she said. "It's this sea of people, and establishing yourself and standing out in such a huge sea of people. I'm so excited, I really can't wait. ... I'm going into it with an open mind, to get the most out of my college experience like I did out of high school."

When that becomes hard, or any part of the college experience gets difficult, students just need to take advantage of the resources offered, Ms. Foote said.

"Lots of campuses nowadays have academic success centers, that's always a great pace to get help," she said. "You can access the help and not be embarrassed."

Teen Board members Timothy Van Vliet and Mason Webb contributed to this article.

Reach Kamille Bostick at (706) 823-3223 or


Worried about making the transition to college? Here are a few tips from Stephanie Foote, the director of the Academic Success Center and the First Year Experience at the University of South Carolina Aiken:

Think positive: You'll need the right frame of mind to make adjustments to college life. Some of that happens at orientation, but the rest is something to work on throughout freshman year.
Link up: A connection to a first-year adviser is key. It helps students get connected right away. If your college doesn't offer one, seek help from the school's academic center or a resident assistant in the dorm, or a teacher. Though talking with peers is good, they don't always know all the rules or all the resources, so it's beneficial to get help from a variety of people.
Don't suffer in silence: A student feeling defeated is not going to get help. Access the help the college makes available, and don't be embarrassed.



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